Because I Said So
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Single mom Daphne Wilder has spent most of her adult life taking care of her beloved daughters. With two of the three already in relationships, she's set on finding the perfect guy for her youngest, Milly.
Sounds innocent enough ... except that Daphne's definition of help is everyone else's definition of meddling. Despite being warned by her daughters to stay out of the matter, the overbearing mom takes things into her own hands by secretly running an Internet personal ad seeking a "life partner" for Milly.
After weeding out a lineup full of dubious and/or deadbeat bachelors, Daphne's blown away by hunky architect Jason, who comes with a long list of impressive credentials. She's determined to have her daughter swept off her feet with this eligible catch and sets them up on a "chance encounter." But Milly's already found a man of her own: Johnny, a musician whom Daphne's deemed unfit.
Milly then does exactly what you would have done in a similar situation. She embarks on a two-lane dating highway, seeing both men simultaneously. Jason is her virtual opposite and cramps her style, but he seems too good of a catch to pass up (and Mom's crazy about him). Johnny doesn't have the future in the palm of his hands, comes with a rambunctious young son in tow and has a "Mom disapproves" sticker tagged on him. But Milly can't help but feel like her real self when he's around. Hmmm. The oh-so-prickly predicaments of mice and movies.
Underneath her manipulative, intrusive ways, Daphne loves Milly more than anything and wants the best for her. In light of her own failed marriage, she explains her actions to Milly: "I was just trying to protect you from becoming me." She also poignantly explains that it's hard for most mothers—particularly single ones who've dedicated their lives to their offspring—to know when or how to step aside. "[Motherhood] is the most impossible love," she says to her daughters. "You tell me where it begins and when it stops."
Despite Daphne's hovering over them, the Wilder daughters reciprocate their mother's purest feelings, and their tight family connection is obvious. Though somewhat misguided, Daphne tells Milly, "I love you enough to tell you the truth," and then launches into a sermonette about finding fulfillment in life: "Happiness is a series of choices—it doesn't just happen. One wrong decision can change your life." Jason apologizes to Milly for losing his temper after she breaks a treasured item. Likewise, Daphne says she's sorry for interfering so much with Milly's life.
Upon first meeting Jason, Daphne looks to the heavens and says, "Thank You, dear Lord." Later, her "prayer" is far less sincere as she yells, "Oh thank You, dear God" in the middle of a bedroom romp with Johnny's father, Joe. (It's implied that in this hook-up, she experiences her first orgasm.) She also offers a bit of greeting card "wisdom": "God couldn't be everywhere, and that's why He made mothers." Milly says that when she gave up hunting for her match, "the universe brought me two great guys."
Director Michael Lehmann (40 Days and 40 Nights) doesn't for a second hide his targeting of the Cosmo-meets-O fan base in this sex-saturated chick flick. Within the first two minutes the Wilder daughters and their mother launch into a raw discussion about uncircumcised penises, breast shapes and casual sex. It sets the tone for a movie full of properly R-rated banter barely couched in PG-13 language.
We hear about what the female orgasm feels like. What the "Wilder women" record is for orgasms in one night. How loud the sisters are during sex. How a former lover left Milly for another guy. And on and on it goes. Even Johnny's young son gets in on the ribaldry when he greets Milly with the line, "I have a penis. You have a vagina—can I see it?" He repeats the sentiment later to other women.
As far as visuals go, moviegoers see a series of clothed bedroom "action" scenes (couples kissing passionately and making out) and post-sex shots (bare shoulders showing from under the covers). Milly accidentally walks in on her mother and Joe in bed. (We're shown part of their tangled legs.) The camera slowly scans each Wilder woman in bra and panties as they disrobe. (One of the girls is wearing a G-string.) Outfits reveal cleavage and midriffs. During a massage in which we see the bare backs of all the women, Milly raises her head and exposes part of her breast.
An "adult friend-finder" Web site yields images of bare-shouldered couples kissing. It also generates sexual groans, moans and whip sounds—which we hear for several minutes in two separate scenes. The ruckus prompt Daphne's dog to start "humping" a chair and licking the computer screen. Daphne is supposedly appalled when she stumbles onto the site, but she later returns to a similar-looking "sex swingers" site.
A passionate kiss between Milly and Johnny inspires a roomful of older couples to follow suit—including two women.
People fall down, knock things over and end up with cake in their hair. Daphne drives recklessly to catch a glimpse of Milly's mysterious date, and she nearly runs into another car.
Crude or Profane Language
God's name is misused more than 50 times (including once in combination with "d--n"). Characters use "a--" and "d--n" in a handful of instances.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Several meals are accompanied by wine or champagne. After a string of unsuccessful interviews with unpromising bachelors, Daphne orders a drink and says she "can't get through another one without one of these." A conversation about expensive wines prompts Jason to envision himself and Milly "drinking our way through Tuscany." Joe offers a "couple drops of brandy" as a remedy for laryngitis.
Other Negative Elements
While in a heated conversation with her psychiatrist sister, Maggie, it's played for laughs when a frustrated Milly tells a chronically "suicidal" patient that his doctor has been blabbing about him for years. She then dares him to jump out of a window (knowing he won't).
One of the most disturbing parts of Because I Said So is its lighthearted yet still scathing take on "old-fashioned" sexual morals. In this movie everyone's doing it—and if you're not, it's time you did. Milly is "doing the oompah-loompah with two guys at once." (Johnny and Jason don't know about each other.) And when Daphne shows the slightest astonishment over this, her daughters essentially mock her for not being OK with it.
Joe, meanwhile, never bats an eye when Johnny and Milly get tangled up in the sheets (even after Johnny's young son barges in on the pair). He and Daphne go from being acquaintances to bedmates in record time—with the full approval of the daughters.
Most chick flicks leave me staring at the ceiling in either complete boredom or irritation over the clichéd dialogue, sappy storylines and even more predictable endings. There, I've said it. Indeed, there have been times I've forced my lovely and sentimental wife to listen as I've dismantled a romantic comedy, explaining the 101 reasons a Hallmark card writer could've penned better lines.
So I'm fully aware that I probably don't "get" every emotional nuance packed into Because I Said So. I understand there may be jokes that are inherently funnier to daughters, mothers, wives and girlfriends than they are to me. And I can maybe see how Annie Hall, er, Diane Keaton could, for those of the fairer sex, possibly elicit some other reaction than a groan, despite having played the same character for the past two decades.
But in this dysfunctional mother-daughter tale, sex trumps all—character development, storytelling and morality. That's neither a male nor a female observation. And it has nothing to do with whether I love or hate big-budget tearjerkers. With sexual ethics as loose as a pair of post-diet pants, Because I Said So slickly creates a sordid "girls' night out" atmosphere by dealing with orgasms, penises, one-night-stands and everything in between with a stubbornly frank (and relativistically postmodern) attitude. Would I be OK with all of that if I was "more sensitive" and cried a little easier? Hardly.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Diane Keaton as Daphne Wilder; Mandy Moore as Milly Wilder; Gabriel Macht as Johnny; Tom Everett Scott as Jason; Lauren Graham as Maggie; Piper Perabo as Mae; Stephen Collins as Joe
Michael Lehmann ( 40 Days and 40 Nights)